Although many students who plan to attend a professional school in the medical field (e.g., medical school, dental school) major in one of the natural sciences, you may choose any major offered by the College. Regardless of which major is chosen, we encourage students to explore courses and activities outside their major.
In addition to the courses required for the chosen major and for graduation from Washington College, students will need to take those courses that are required for admission to health professions schools and needed to provide an academic background for admissions tests. Many of these courses also satisfy some of the requirements of various majors, especially majors in the Natural Sciences, and some satisfy college distribution requirements.
Because some of the courses needed for admission for the health professions programs have one or more prerequisites—and because students who want to attend professional school in the academic year after graduation from Washington College will normally need to complete the courses necessary for professional school admission by the end of the Junior year—students should begin to map their future coursework during their first academic advising meeting. The timing of the chemistry courses (a 5-course/ 5-semester series, from Chemical Principles of Organic Molecules through Biochemistry) is especially important.
The courses required for professional school admission vary depending on the type of medical program (e.g., veterinary medicine vs. allopathic medicine) and from school to school. The required courses (admission prerequisites) most commonly include the following:
- General Biology I and II w/lab (BIO 111, 112)
- Chemical Principles of Organic Molecules (CHE 120)
- Reactions of Organic Molecules (CHE 140)
- Quantitative Chemical Analysis (CHE 220)
- Chemistry of the Elements (CHE 240)
- Biochemistry w/lab (BIO 409/CHE 309)
- College Physics I and II w/lab (PHY 101, 102) or General Physics I and II w/lab (PHY 111,112)
- Two Math courses (see additional information below)
- Two English courses (ENG 101 is recommended)
- Social Science courses (see additional information below)
- Humanities courses
* Students who have not taken General Chemistry as of fall 2018 will begin their 4-course series with the new four-semester chemistry sequence (CHE 120, 140, 220, 240) which is the equivalent of (CHE 111, 112, 201, 202).
Given the variation in required courses from program to program and school to school (some schools have additional requirements; some have fewer requirements; some recommend certain courses), students should consult the appropriate websites for each area of medicine (aamc.org, aacom.org, aacpm.org, aavmc.org, adea.org, opted.org) and for individual schools. They should also consult those documents that list professional school requirements: Medical School Admission Requirements for U.S. and Canadian Medical Schools (MSAR); Osteopathic Medical College Information Book (CIB); Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR); and ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools). Many of these are available online.
Those students who plan to attend a health professions program in the academic year following graduation from Washington College (without one or more gap years) must be aware that the hierarchical nature of the chemistry courses needed for admission to professional schools and for many of the admissions tests such as the MCAT requires them to take CHE 120/140 in the first year, CHE 220/240 in the second year, and Biochemistry (BIO 409/CHE 309) in the fall of the third year. Students who elect not to take Chemistry in the first year will normally not be able to apply to medical school without taking a gap year.
The chemistry courses CHE 120/140/220/240 are the equivalent of Organic Chemistry and General Chemistry.
Students may fulfill the physics requirement for health professions schools by taking either the algebra-based physics course [College Physics I and II (PHY 101, 102)] or the calculus-based physics course [General Physics I and II (PHY 111, 112)]. Those students planning a major in Physics or in Chemistry with ACS certification need to take the calculus-based physics sequence (PHY 111, 112), as PHY 101/102 will not satisfy the requirements for their major.